Working Together to Change the World: Interview

 

Jurek Owsiak the leader of WOSP with Julia_an ASW volunteer

ASW interviews student Julia, who shares her thoughts about the service work she has been involved in for the last 3 years. 

ASW: What is WOŚP?

Julia: WOŚP, The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, is the biggest non-governmental charity in Poland. It raises funds for specialized high-tech equipment for hospitals. Often the beneficiaries are children. 

ASW: What does WOŚP mean to you personally?

Julia: I've been a volunteer for 5 years now, and I’ve been supporting the charity since I was a small child. I believe that upgrading the equipment and the quality of healthcare, especially for children, is very important. Society will improve if its kids are healthier. I was also a beneficiary of equipment that was sponsored by WOŚP. It is very close to my heart. 

ASW WOSP volunteers parents and students

ASW: Tell us about the beginning, about the first steps you took as a WOŚP volunteer.

Julia: It happened when I was studying in my previous school. I always liked the idea of people working together, raising significant amounts of money for a good cause. When I came to ASW, there was no volunteer group focused on that, so I decided to start one. I wanted to encourage more people to support this charity's activities and get involved. In the beginning, I just really wanted to contribute because it was really important for me. The rest is the result of our ongoing activities.

ASW: Last year you and your team collected over 30,000 PLN. This year, you’ve collected more than 50,000 PLN. What makes this fundraising so successful?*

Julia: It is the collaboration, the collective effort—a team of people who have been committed to the cause. In previous years, after it was over, they would come to me and ask me to do it again. It is important, and it is a lot of fun. They care about it, and they want to commit. This is why the success is greater from year to year. 

ASW volunteers for WOSP

ASW: Have you encountered any challenges?

Julia: Like with any kind of activity involving organizing group work, there are issues with communication and logistics. This year especially, the challenges were quite significant because of the pandemic. The reality of volunteering and fundraising in public spaces has changed. Perhaps, partially because of these challenging circumstances, people were eager to invest more effort, and donors were willing to donate even more, which boosted the success of the whole thing. 

ASW: Have you thought about passing this project to someone else, and WOŚP continues to be part of ASW?

Julia: Due to the COVID restrictions, it was more challenging to run meetings this year. Still, some middle and elementary school students are really interested in WOŚP. Hopefully, the continuation will come from that direction. The potential is there.

ASW students volunteering for WOSP

ASW: Another impressive project that you are involved in is the Precious Plastic campaign. Can you tell us something about it?

Julia: It is something that we started thinking about a few years ago. The idea was to create a plastic recycling center on the ASW campus. We wanted to collect plastic waste from the community, process it, design, and make products out of it. This would decrease the school’s plastic outcome, and the goods could be sold or used in the school.

ASW: Both these projects involved a long-lasting and constant commitment. What makes you stay committed to these challenging activities?

Julia: I guess if we care deeply about something (I care about the environment we live in and the issues it faces) and if we approach this with an interest (in my case, robotics and technology), then we can come up with creative solutions to these issues. Eventually, like-minded people will join in and help to push the Precious Plastic initiative further. We weren't best friends, we just had similar interests and collaborated to help the environment and ourselves.

Newly installed preciousplastic facility at ASW

ASW: What would you recommend to other people who would like to step forward but are not sure what should be their first step?

Julia: Often my peers would be reluctant to do a service project because there is no club in the school that deals with the topic of their interest or a cause they feel attracted to. In this case, they should just try and create such a club. Talk to people. Find out how others envision solutions for issues, be they global or local. The chances are high that one could discover a group of like-minded students, who later could collaborate on various projects. This is how it happened with WOŚP. In the beginning, it was just a spark, and later on, more and more students got involved, and not only students, staff too. First, people need to talk and stay optimistic. Everything is possible. Encouragement and motivation come with people. 

ASW: Would you say that these service experiences will shape your future?

Julia: It has taught me a lot about communication, organization, management, logistics, talking to people, documentation, and the importance of deadlines. These skills will be helpful for me later in life, in work, and with family. I realized the benefits of collaboration. I know that I will have to collaborate to reach solutions and get the job done. I also gained confidence that if I care about something and if that something is faced with a problem, I will find a solution.

ASW: Do you have a message for the ASW community?

Julia: If you have an idea, pursue it. Find people who will share it and work with them together. Everything is possible when you are part of a team.

 

*The exact amount of money raised by Julia’s ASW team for WOŚP over the three years is 121,431 PLN. 

2019: 36,250 PLN

2020: 35,127 PLN

2021: 50,054 PLN